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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Online grieving can be tacky

Most Facebook users are familiar with the attention seeking, post-heartbreak Facebook statuses that attempt to reclaim one’s independence by reassuring the world that the user “”loves life”” or is “”feeling free!”” Users often quote song lyrics to inform friends of “”all the crazy s*** (they) did tonight,”” and how “”those will be the best memories,”” hoping to make their former partners cringe.

While grieving through Facebook is often harmless, Joshua Simon Ashby, a 20-year-old from New Zealand, took this therapeutic practice too far by posting a nude photograph of his ex-girlfriend on her Facebook page.

After Ashby posted the photograph, he proceeded to hack into his ex-girlfriend’s account and change her settings to make the photograph available to more than 500 million people, then went so far as to change her password so she couldn’t remove it. Ashby pled guilty to distributing indecent material and will serve four months in jail. Judge Andrew Becroft said “”Ashby posted the photo in an ‘irresponsible drunken jealous rage’ after the breakup of their five-month relationship,”” according to The Dominion Post.

Ironically, Ashby attempted to hide his face with a piece of paper while receiving his sentence in an effort to avoid being photographed. Becroft permitted Ashby’s photograph to be taken because “”there was a certain symmetry to it.””

Although Ashby’s actions stepped far outside the boundaries of desperate statuses and claims to singlehood, he’s a frightening example of how easy the Internet makes it for someone else to gain control over another person’s life.

All social network users are guilty of manipulating their image and controlling what other people see. Although this isn’t as dramatic as Ashby’s actions, changing one’s profile picture, uploading certain albums and updating statuses are all forms of manipulation that control the way others view us. The power of one’s control isn’t limited to one’s profile; the architecture of one’s Facebook page can shape the image of another “”friend”” as well.  

If an ex-girlfriend changes her profile picture to a photograph of her and another guy, she’s aiming to make the ex-lover jealous and have friends believe that she’s moved on.

Another prime example is the beginning period of one’s freshman year of college. The fears of new friendships and adapting are sometimes remedied by the art of designing one’s Facebook. As a freshman, you party hop, camera in hand, and capture as many moments as those sloppy hands will allow. The next morning, your Facebook is cluttered with new faces, unrecognizable to old high school friends, and most likely foreign to you as well. Regardless, you’ve started defining your college self through Facebook and have old friends wondering who’s that? Now, take those photos and add statuses, quotes, and wall posts — all tools for crafting one’s image. We all design an image for ourselves by adding and subtracting what we want people to see and what we don’t want them to see.

Whether you’re grieving or on top of the world, the urge to voice that to all your “”friends”” is, quite frankly, pathetic and most likely unfulfilling. To be fair, sharing moments and connecting with friends is the point of social networks like Facebook, and all users are guilty of over-sharing happy occasions. But when it comes to grieving, regardless of the loss, advertising it detracts from whatever meaning that relationship once had or still has.

The moment the world sees a “”living the life,”” right next to your broken heart symbol on your news feed, we all know that you’re not living the life and that you’re particularly upset and angry because you felt the need to share your mood with hundreds, maybe thousands, of “”friends.””  Online identities create a mask for people, giving them destructive confidence and anonymity that often leads to rash and inappropriate decisions. If nothing else, be wary of Facebook feuds, and keep your personal life personal.   

— Alexandra Bortnik is a creative writing junior. She can be reached at

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